Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): Review

C Plus
LAURIE’S GRADE
C Minus
PHIL’S GRADE

It’s really not that bad – honest!

Batman v Superman: Revenge of the Critics sees the return of Henry Cavill as one of the caped crusaders, alongside Ben Affleck’s debut as the other one. Jesse Eisenberg takes up the toupe of Lex Luther, and I guess Amy Adams technically stars as Lois Lane.

Since the mass destruction suffered by Metropolis during General Zod’s defeat at Superman’s hands, ‘the world’ (i.e. Metropolis and Gotham) has come to nervously accept the Man of Steel’s existence. But not everyone is happy. Can we ever feel safe when this invincible alien could just change his mind and obliterate us all?

HEAR OUR PODCAST REVIEW OF THIS MOVIE >

Senator Finch asks this question on behalf of the city, Batman asks this question as a rogue peacekeeper, Lex Luthor asks this question on behalf of… himself, I guess? And then I suppose Superman probably wonders about it a bit, especially when standing on balconies that overlook the city he has come to call home.

As Phil says, it’s a superhero-themed Cold War as we all wonder who will snap first.

It is very hard to understand the gangland beating this movie has received at the hand of critics around the world; seems like they might just be enjoying a bit of well-earned thug life behind those desks.

The film isn’t great – but it definitely isn’t terrible. Man of Steel was a shocker and clearly, several changes have been made in the storytelling, visuals & pace to improve this instalment.

Ben Affleck in particular makes a triumphant entrance as a beefier, more ‘realistic’ Batman than Christian Bale’s more metaphorical anti-hero. He dresses in super-solid battle armour, is unashamed to use advanced weapons and tools, and fights with the slow pace and weighty power of a wrestler. His Bruce Wayne is pretty good too, looking suave and playboy-esque enough to put various villains off the scent.

I like Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent too; he convinces on screen, it’s just that the dialogue and narrative given to his character don’t endear him to us all that much. Phil hated Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, I didn’t mind his more crazy/annoying take on the character.

Jeremy Irons nails a slightly younger and more sarcastic Alfred, while Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is sadly a let-down, with the filmmakers clearly unsure how to shoehorn her into the plot in a meaningful way.

The film appears to want to score every point on the franchise-building bingo board. It’s littered with pointers to sequels and spin-offs, provides fan-favourite screencaps and conflicts by the bucket, and shoves in as many hero-worship cliches as possible.

When you consider how many goals it was aiming for, it’s no surprise that most of them hit the post.

Phil said he wished they’d split the film in two: Batman v Superman with a more modest climax, then Dawn of Justice with this movie’s third act and clear open doors for future movies.

I have to agree with him; it’s hard to hold all the different journeys and arcs in your head as the film lumbers towards its climax – and by the time you get there you realise just how many of them were irrelevant, and will stay irrelevant even in any later films.

Even with all that, there is fun to be had. The indulgent building destruction and boring super-saiyan style fight scenes are more or less gone, and the titular battle is pretty well storyboarded. There’s even a turn up for the books in the music department, with an actual theme & motif playing through many of Lex Luthor’s scenes from Hans Zimmer.

It’s one to watch and enjoy for what it is – a standard superhero flick with expensive, ‘dark’ visuals and top-billing performers having a bit of fun.

DC & Warner Bros may be playing catch up to their more athletic Marvel cousins (seen particularly with a couple of incredibly rushed superhero intros), but who knows what the results will be – I didn’t really love either of the Avengers Assemble movies; perhaps Justice League could be a proper contender?

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